The aviation industry is deemed to be among the safest mode of transport in the world. Research shows that the death risk for commercial airline passengers remains at one in fifty million flights. Safety is an accumulation of skills and knowledge about risk converted into practice, and flying has been able to incorporate the known infallibility of both machines and humans. However, there have been incidences of flight accidents that have turned to be fatal such as the recent Lamia Flight 2933. It is regarded to be the worst air disaster that occurred in 2016; a year that had been foreseen as the safest in the aviation sector. This paper will embark on analyzing factors that contributed to the occurrence of Lamia Flight 2933 crash.
Lamia Flight 2933, a charter flight owned by the Lamia Company crashed in Colombia on the night of 28 November 2016. The plane had 77 on board, and only six passengers survived with one later succumbing after arriving at the hospital. The survivors included three players, two other passengers, and one crewmember. The chartered flight had been hired to transport members of the Chapecoense Football Team to play the Copa Sudamericana Finals against Atletico Nacional. The aircraft involved (AVRO RJ85) was manufactured 18 years ago by BAE Systems Company (Diamond, 2016).
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During the fatal day, the chartered plane was under the captainship of Mr. Quiroga, a co-owner of the Lamia airlines. The plane took off at the Bolivian Viru Viru International Airport and was destined to make a scheduled landing at the Jose Maria Cordova International Airport in Medellin. The flight distance between the two airports is 2,960 km translating into 1,599 nautical miles equaling the aircraft’s range. Unfortunately, the plane crashed while waiting to land at Rio Negro VOR, raising many questions in the aviation sector (R.J.E, 2016).
The delay at the first leg of the journey from Sao Paulo to Santa Cruz contributed partially to the occurrence of the deadly crash. The delay estimated to be one hour might have disrupted the flight plan in its entirety, since it suspended the planes scheduled refueling stop at Cobija. This was evident because Cobija airstrip was not operational at night. This forced the crew to fly directly to Medellin from Santa Cruz, thereby straining the plane engines to the extremes (Diamond, 2016).
The evidence shows that the aircraft run out of fuel after it was rebuffed to land by the air-traffic control at Rio Negro VOR. A crewmember survivor in his submissions stated that the captain’s final words alluded to fuel depletion, which was heard even by the control tower. According to the investigators of the crash, they reported that there was no fuel present in the plane. This statement is supported by the argument that the aircraft never burst into flames after crashing, which is usually the case with the highly flammable jet fuel. Consequently, this shows that the accident might have been caused by fuel exhaustion (R.J.E, 2016).
A violation of the Global Civil Aviation regulations by the aircraft is another factor that may have led to the occurrence of the crash. According to the regulator, it is mandatory for any plane flying internationally to carry enough jet fuel to make it to an alternative airport in case of an emergency. In addition, the jet fuel in excess should have the capacity to keep the aircraft on the air for a period not less than half an hour after reaching the alternate airport. In this regard, Lamia Flight 2933, capacity being 4 hours and 22 minutes was less than the required estimates of 5 hours and 22 minutes of a plane in the similar class (R.J.E, 2016).
Electrical failure is another element that may have led to Lamia Flight 2933 crashing just five miles to the airport. Usually, this fault occurs whenever the aircraft runs short of fuel, which was the case with the plane in question. A plane’s electrical power is generated in-flight by the running engines or through the onboard auxiliary power unit. The two systems are dependent on fuel, thereby making it obligatory for the crewmembers to ensure the plane never runs out of fuel while in-flight. The aircraft’s captain might have been running on the plane’s onboard batteries, unaware of the fast depleting jet fuel (Diamond, 2016).
The pilot Mr. Quiroga being a co-owner of Lamia airline, it may be satisfactory to consider the conflict of interest as amongst the factors that led to the death of 71 people. By flying the team successfully, the captain in this situation was meant to benefit from a unique set of initiatives. The airline had charged 70,000 dollars for the trip and postponing a chartered flight in a time-sensitive industry is unfavorable for the business. In his decision-making, the captain may have failed to make a formal distress call concerning the depleting fuel since he was aware of the huge penalties associated with flouting rules on fuel limits (R.J.E, 2016).
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The submitted flight plan exceeded by more than 8000 m in altitude violating the nominated cruising flight level is a factor that may have led to the crash. Based on the guidelines issued by the reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM), the flight-approving agency (AASANA) violated protocol by allowing the aircraft to fly at over 9,000 m. RVSM allows only an aircraft with specially licensed autopilots and altimeters to fly in its space. Otherwise, an aircraft such as AVRO RJ85 should have been flying at a lower altitude or seek special exemptions from the requirements (R.J.E, 2016).
Poor oversight by the Bolivian authorities adds as another factor that may give a hint to the reason behind the fatal crash at the Colombian jungle. Arguably, the authority knew of the awful situation at the Lamia airlines, but went ahead and gave the aircraft a clean bill of health. AVRO RJ85 was the only plane operated by the airline and had been in operation for nearly 20 years. Perhaps, the arrest of the Bolivian authority officer and murder charges confirms its involvement in the disastrous crash (R.J.E, 2016).
In conclusion, airlines appreciate the significance of having good pilots with exemplary training. Flight Lamia 2933, will remain to be among the most tragic air crashes affecting a football world, but the reason behind its occurrence should be a lesson for the aviation industry. Fuel exhaustion is considered to have been the primary cause of the crash considering the plane never burst into flames after crashing, an aspect that is rare in aviation accidents.
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- Diamond, C. (2016). LAMIA Bolivia 2933: Always a Lesson to be Learned – Airways Magazine. Airways Magazine. Retrieved 8 February 2017, from https://airwaysmag.com/industry/lamia-bolivia-2933-lesson-to-be-learned/
- R.J.E, (2016). Why the Chapecoense football team’s plane ran out of fuel. Economist.com. Retrieved 8 February 2017, from http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2016/12/fuel- folly